And how to read music, too - it can be fun, I promise!
Music theory, in a nutshell, is the study of the mechanics of music - from the sounds to the notation. For the everyday musician like you and me, theory has to do with two parts of the musical experience.
How to write music
First, written music and how to both interpret and create musical notation for ourselves. Reading music allows a musician to recreate a piece by sight, just as reading words allows you to tell a story exactly as the author wrote it.
The flip side of reading music is the ability to write music, which allows musicians to record musical thoughts and ideas on paper. Secondly, music theory encompasses our ability as musicians to understand what we hear in any style of music we love.
Have you ever heard a song played live, or on the radio or a recording, and thought, "oh, I wish I knew what that chord progression was! I love that sound!"
Learning how sounds relate to one another is like learning a foreign language.
Once you know the vocabulary and grammar, you can listen to the language being spoken and begin to understand what is being said, whereas before it was just babble.
In the same way, you can learn to recognize sound patterns, chords, and progressions.
Course, music theory is a very broad discipline and what I've mentioned is just the tip of the iceberg! Like any field of study, the opportunities for deeper and deeper learning are endless.
Basic music theory
I've handpicked great music theoryresources for you!
From beginning to advanced, there's help and lessons out there for you!
If you're a visual learner, and want interactive learning that you can do with your computer or your smartphone, check out my page on online music theory sites.
Are you a beginner pianist (or musician of any kind)? Start here. My page on beginning theory has great, free courses that will give you a solid foundation and really help you understand how music is put together. Learn about key signatures, rhythms, scales and chords, and how they all fit together in the circle of fifths.
If you're ready to broaden your knowledge, I have some recommendations for you. Start learning about music history and doing some purposeful listening to music from different musical periods -- click over to my advanced theory page and I have the perfect books and CDs to add to your music library, as well as more free online resources.
Because we all need to have a little fun once in a while!
Basic materials of music theory
Teacher , do I really need to learn this stuff?
Short answer? Yes! :-)
Long answer? Yes -- but the how and the time frame are entirely up to you.
If you're learning classical piano, then music theory is already included the methods you're using. Your teacher may also have you do extra theory work to help you learn faster!
Hopefully you're also doing some rhythmic dictation and ear training as well. If you have never heard of either of those, then check out these websites to start working on these essential skills every musician needs to have!
Essentials music theory learning
Learning theory is only going to help you in understanding and performing the music you're playing. And it will help your music reading become faster and more fluent.
If you're learning chord method piano because you just want to play from lead sheets and jam with your friends, you'll learn bits of theory here and there as they apply to your playing. And as you get more interested in how to write songs and get the sound you want.
The more you learn, the easier music will become, and the better musician you'll be! Once you understand how all the key signatures and chords work together, you'll be able to play and improvise in any key, any time.
Fun with music theory
Actually, I think studying the nuts and bolts of music is fun. It was one of my favorite classes when I was studying music at university.
You might surprise yourself and like it, too.
No matter what, theory knowledge helps make you a well-rounded musician with an ever-growing understanding of music. So get started learning more theory or brushing up on your listening skills today!